Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
The landscape of the American workforce has changed, and many employees now work from home. Telecommuting has many advantages for both employers and employees, but it can also present liability concerns. Workers’ compensation benefits may cover accidents at the primary workplace, but what about injuries sustained while working from home?
Is a Home Office Considered a Workplace?
Yes, a home office is a secondary workplace. Most employers require remote workers to have a defined workspace at home. This can help increase efficiency, but it can also protect the employer if an employee suffers an injury while working from home.
The home workspace should be a safe environment for the worker. Many times, employers require photos of the space before approving telecommuting. This area should have:
- Properly secured extension cords
- Ergonomically designed furniture, equipment, and workstation
- Sufficient lighting
- Adequate ventilation
- Fire extinguishers
It is essential to identify and correct potential hazards to reduce the risk of accidents.
Does Workers’ Compensation Cover Remote Workers?
Yes, but not every injury sustained at home qualifies; It must arise from work-related activities during working hours, such as:
- Slips or falls
- Repetitive motion injuries, such as carpal tunnel issues
- Walking to or from the restroom, or to the kitchen if getting food or drink
Because there are usually no witnesses to an accident at home, it can be challenging to determine that the injury was work-related. If an accident occurs, the employee will be required to provide a detailed written statement describing the incident and how and when it happened, photos of the injury, and photos of the cause of the accident – such as a broken chair or a wet spot which caused a fall.
To reduce possible confusion, it is helpful for the employer to:
- Have a clear definition of the employee’s job description
- Require regular checks of the home office to be sure safety standards are being maintained
- Have telecommuting safety policies in writing, signed by the employee
- Have specific break and meal times and locations set for the employee
- Instruct the employee on when and how to report a work-related injury
Are Employers Required to Have Workers’ Compensation Insurance?
Almost all employers in the United States are required by law to obtain workers’ comp insurance. Employers should check their state’s laws to ensure that they are compliant; However, even if an employer isn’t required to have workers’ comp insurance, providing this coverage is still a good idea in order to protect the business and its employees.
Do You Still Have Questions?
Employers and remote employees alike should contact your state’s workers’ compensation board to ask for assistance. Employers can also request information from their business’s insurance provider. For even further assistance, a workers’ compensation lawyer such as Hurwitz, Whitcher, & Molloy – Attorneys at Law can be contacted.